The purpose of MZ is to perpetuate the culture and traditions of artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico by connecting them with socially conscious consumers around the globe. MZ strives to make a positive impact by nurturing lasting relationships and always abiding by fair trade principles. Thanks for being part of our community!
MZ is a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation.
In 2009, MZ founder Shelley Tennyson was volunteering with a microfinance non-profit in the small Zapotec village of Teotitlán del Valle in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. She was offering business classes to the female loan recipients, many of whom were weavers. Shelley realized that no matter how exquisite the product, or how savvy their business skills, without buyers, these hardworking and skilled artisans were not able to support themselves or their families adequately.
Three years later, MZ was born out of a belief that commerce can, and should, change lives for the better. What began as a wild idea to sell Zapotec bags globally, in a village where most of the women had never even left the state, has grown into a fair trade fashion brand run by a team of five women in the US and Mexico that supports over 50 artisans in Oaxaca.
Each MZ item holds an element of discovery. From the significance of the traditional designs, to the bold color combinations, and most importantly, the distinct story of the artisan who made it.
The purpose of MZ is to perpetuate the beautiful artistry of the designers, makers, and artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico by connecting them with socially conscious consumers around the globe. With a focus on traditional craftspeople and marginalized groups who are making their living from handmade items, MZ strives to make a positive impact by nurturing lasting relationships and always abiding by fair trade principles.
What this means:
- It is a priority for MZ that all artisans are from Mexico.
- It is a priority for MZ that all artisans are being helped economically by the work MZ provides and the fair trade principles MZ adheres to.
- MZ works with artisans and designers that do not fit the traditional or marginalized profile in limited quantity, preferring to provide work and economic opportunity to those who need it most.
- It will be clear and transparent who we are working with and how they are benefiting from collaboration with MZ. Whether it is economic opportunity or the support of Oaxacan artistic design.
For us at MZ, we recognize the significant role that weaving plays in maintaining and celebrating the incredible Zapotec artisanal lineage. We believe it is essential that Zapotec communities are able to pass down the meaning behind the traditional Zapotec symbols and with it, their connections to their ancestors and the natural world.
It is our goal, through sharing Zapotec textiles with a wider market, to help make weaving a viable livelihood for the artisans, allowing them to continue to do this important work. And we couldn’t do this without conscious shoppers, who value handmade products and indigenous artisanal traditions.
Thanks for being part of the MZ family!
Transparency and accountability are two of the most important tenets of fair trade. At MZ, we go to great lengths to share every part of our production process as part of our commitment to transparency. From creating artisan profiles on our website so the end customer can meet the maker, to detailing the production process in video, and explaining our choices of shipping materials in an effort to be more sustainable, we strive to be as open as possible.
The open sharing of information of course includes sharing with our artisan partners as well! We share ALL of our business information with the artisan team, explaining our costs, expenses, payments and processes in great detail. Not only does this increase trust and understanding among the entire MZ team, but supports their business education, empowering the artisans to grow in their own small businesses.
We invite you to explore the mission behind MZ. Should you have any questions about our mission, brand or fair trade practices, please reach out to us!
Fair trade means that producers in developing countries are getting a fair wage for their work. It is an approach to international development and business based on dialogue, transparency, and respect between farmers or artisans and those who sell their products in the first world. Fair trade businesses, which are accredited by various bodies and backed by conscious consumers, work to raise awareness and campaign for changes in conventional international trade.
More than just a trade partnership, fair trade addresses the hurdles that many producers face, offers support during production, and seeks to find consumers for their goods, so that it is the craftperson or coffee farmer who truly benefits from the sale. Fair trade products can be more expensive than their conventional counterparts because of the fair wage given to the producer, and it takes discerning consumers to make fair trade a working model.
The MZ brand was created in order to connect the talented Zapotec weavers with new markets as well as to share their craftsmanship with the world. We are accredited by the Fair Trade Federation and our goal for growth is to be able to offer work to more artisans to help them improve their lives and communities, one weaving at a time.
As members of the FTF we fully support the values of fair trade:
Trade as a Force for Positive Change
We value trading relationships that distribute power, risks and rewards more equitably. We believe that trade should be used as a tool to help alleviate poverty, reduce inequality, and create opportunities for people to help themselves. Trade should promote fair compensation, safe and healthy conditions, direct and long-term relationships, transparent business practices, and workplaces free from discrimination and forced child labor. When trade encompasses these practices, the lives of all people and their communities improve.
We celebrate the contribution and value of all people in the supply chain and recognize the dignity of each person and organization in our interactions and relationships. We believe that people have a right to participate in the decisions that affect their lives based on open sharing of information.
We value communities grounded in trust, moral support, cooperation, and a sense of belonging, making us stronger individually and as a whole. We value the global fair trade movement, recognizing that we are intrinsically interdependent, and believe that our unified voices convey a powerful message.
We value continuous improvement and application of economic, social, cultural, and environmentally sustainable practices. We embrace the United Nations’ definition of sustainability “to meet the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
We believe that credibility comes from demonstrating, through open and transparent interactions, the promises we make. We have a responsibility to maintain the highest standards and expectations of ourselves; and, we value organizations that aspire to fully embrace fair trade principles.
We value the impact that comes from empowering consumers with knowledge. We believe that when people understand that trade can be a force for positive change they will use their purchasing power to improve the lives of people and communities.